I have discovered a debate. A what comes first – the chicken or the egg kind of debate….and it’s to do with confidence and competence.
My premise has long been that confidence is a state of mind. So I can be confident that I can do something before I know that I am competent at it. I think that is why I have often thrown myself in the deep end with things. I can see myself achieving at new things, before I am proved to be competent at them. I see confidence as the first step to achievement and what follows on the path to becoming competent or capable is learning.
For me there is a difference between being able to say – ‘I know I can do that ‘(confidence) to saying ‘I understand how to do that and I have the experience that proves it’ (competence). There is a balance needed and to succeed at something there’s no doubt we need both, confidence and competence.
Last month I wrote about confidence and explored the development of trust – personal trust – that can overcome fear. Confidence is something that is drawn out and encouraged into being, tricks of trade can be learnt, however authentic confidence is found through personal development.
With competence, I believe the learning happens on a more cognitive and practical level – with acts of perceiving, knowing, experiencing and remembering. This enables us to move from understanding, to knowing, to embodying processes, actions and ways of doing.
Competence requires flexibility, emotional intelligence, self awareness and resilience. It is wholly experiential. I can study ‘how’ to play basketball, but until I get on a court and practise, then I can be as confident as I like, but I will not know that I am competent. Experience brings the theoretical into reality. I have observed this sitting beside my 17 year old as he learns to drive.
So building BOTH confidence and competence is a key for success, however I believe it helps to start with confidence. It’s the chicken and the egg thing again. I do think that having a confident attitude to start with enables a whole lot more opportunity for development of competencies. Take someone like Richard Branson – here is someone who is the epitome of confidence, someone who only develops competencies after her has chucked himself in. I like his four top competencies in business:
In my life I can translate these into:
Fine competencies for a balanced life I would say.
Building core competencies in presentation skills and public speaking is the focus of the second ‘C’ , COMPETENCE : The Art of Effective Speaking.
In this one day seminar we extend your competencies in;
I wanted to sit down and write some pearls of wisdom about confidence. So I sat down and stared at the screen for what seemed like ages. I wrote some stuff and then deleted it. I wrote about other stuff. Then I did other stuff. Facebook had some interesting articles. I needed to connect with new people on Linkedin. Then I had a lightbulb moment. I was feeling under confident about writing about confidence. I was doubting myself. I was not trusting in my own ability and my own voice. I was hearing the voice of my critic and imagining negative responses before I had even given myself a chance.
So, as is quite often a human condition, I am taking a look at confidence from the negative premise of under confidence and fear. I want to really look at that fear though. What is it when fear gets in the way of confidence? Is it possible to be confident and fearful?
I looked up our thesaurus (the one we all share online) and it threw up some antonyms – opposites – to look at: afraid; cowardly; depressed; doubtful; fearful; indefinite; meek; pessimistic; sad; shy; timid; uncertain; unsure; weak. Fearful was there as is afraid, so yes it would seem that fear is thought of as an opposite of confidence. Then, as is my want, I looked up fear. What struck me was the word TRUST.
Trust forms part of a definition of confidence as much as it is an antonym for fear.
For me trust is the real key in understanding and embracing my confident self. Trust is so often used in a sense of me to another. I trust you to repay the debt, or to look after my children, or to let myself be seen by you. How is that relationship changed when it becomes a matter of self-confidence, or when the trust that is on the line is a trust in myself?
As we age and mature there are certain things that become potential scenarios for how the relationship develops with ourselves and how that manifests in our confidence to be in the world.
A series of small successes can allow a more positive attitude and instil more confidence in my abilities. A series of small failures can undermine that confidence and create a vacuum. So there must be a role for resilience.
I believe the key to resilience is knowing where to put your attention. If you are constantly listening to that voice in your head that is talking you down, telling you that its not possible and not worth it, that its too risky and that you are never good enough anyway so why would you try, then chances are you will begin to believe these things.
Confidence blossoms when we begin to put our attention on what is working, and listening to the coach rather than the critic.